Chennaiyin FC head coach Owen Coyle was a happy man after his side secure another comeback win in the Indian Super League (ISL) against NorthEast United FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Wednesday.

In what was a potential knockout for both teams to stay in the playoff race, both sides began the game positively, and it was an end-to-end affair in the opening half, but neither side could find the back of the net.

The visitors caught the Chennaiyin FC defence by surprise and scored the opening goal through Jithin MS in the 49th minute. Chennaiyin FC kept fighting hard in the second half and they finally got the equalising goal through a set-piece when full-back Aakash Sangwan scored an Olympic goal to draw things level.

Just when everybody was thought that the two teams would share the spoils at the Marina Arena, Ankit Mukherjee, another full-back, fired the winning goal from the edge of the box in injury time to put Chennaiyin FC ahead in the game. Coyle was delighted with the comeback of his side in the second half as he shared insights from the game. The result saw Chennaiyin FC move up to sixth place after their third straight win.

“I knew it would be obviously a tough game. Both teams I knew would go all out to win the game. Both teams had some good chances, but we had some chances to get in front,” Coyle stated at the post-match press conference.

“Vishal (Kaith) had an unbelievable save from Jordan (Murray) in Kolkata. But that save tonight by Gurmeet Singh from Ryan Edwards in the first half with the header was probably one of the candidates for save of the season. So we certainly felt we should be in front, but we never. And then, we made a horrendous mistake (at the beginning of the second half), which can happen,” he added.

Both sides had a fair amount of chances in the game. Chennaiyin FC registered seven shots on target from 17 shots taken while the Highlanders took 16 shots of which four of them were on target.

“We were a threat all night with some wonderful chances. And then Irfan Yadwad should have had another goal for the header from three yards. But the keeper had some great saves for them. And again, they've hit the post as well through Tomi Juric. So the game was end-to-end. I think any neutral watching the game must have thought, wow, what a fantastic advert for the ISL and for Indian football. But I don't think over the piece anybody could deny that we were the better team and deserved to win,” Coyle continued further.

Full-back Mukherjee, who previously netted the opening goal in their remarkable victory against Odisha FC, once again showcased his prowess by scoring the crucial winning goal against NorthEast United FC.

Coyle showered praise on Mukherjee, who will unfortunately miss the final game due to suspension. Post-match, Coyle also disclosed Mukherjee's poignant situation regarding his father’s illness and his unwavering determination to play despite the family emergency.

“Obviously, I've probably picked up another couple of suspensions tonight. I think Ankit (Mukherjee) is now suspended. And just a note on Ankit, because obviously he popped up with the winning goal,” he said.

“But more than that, Ankit’s father has been really, really ill and has been taken to hospital. And I told him yesterday he didn't have to play this game. I mean, nobody loves football more than me. But families, which we love games and the fans are incredible. Families are more important. I mean, your father's seriously ill. But all credit to him. He said, 'No, coach, I want to play the game'.” Coyle shared.

The victory for Chennaiyin FC signifies that they have become the first team to achieve a comeback win in three consecutive games in the ISL. Now, they only require a point against FC Goa in their final match to secure their position in the playoffs.

They could secure qualification even before if East Bengal FC drop points against Punjab FC on Wednesday.

“We need to go to Goa and get something from that game. But when we go there, we won't be going to sit back. We're going there to win because that's what I'm trying to build at this club, a winning mentality,” he commented.